Australian passports, OCIs and the Indian Consulate

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When you obtain Australian citizenship, you surrender your Indian passport and are required to obtain an OCI card if you wish to avoid the hassle of visiting the Indian Consulate office each and every time you have to visit India. Having an OCI card thus saves you time and money.

When you get an OCI it does carry a lifelong visa sticker and a copy of the same sticker is pasted on your current Australian passport. However, while travelling, you have to carry the OCI card and your Australian passport with the visa stamp each time you travel. The question arises: if you are required to carry the OCI with you all the time, what is the use of putting a lifelong visa sticker in the Australian passport. This becomes particularly irrelevant because the Australian passport expires every 10 years. As a result, when you get a new passport you are required to go through the same ordeal of reapplying for a new OCI and the re-issuance of a new sticker for the new passport. This thus defeats the purpose of having a lifelong visa, as it effectively only has a 10-year lifespan. Moreover, when you get a new passport you are required to get a new OCI. I fail to understand why the same OCI is not enough. Instead another sticker carrying the same particulars needs to be affixed on the new passport. Having an OCI and a sticker of the same in the Australian passport is an unnecessary duplication.

It is time to untangle this bureaucratic practice and do away with the idea of re-affixing the sticker in the new passport every few years. That way, the CG will save resources and can devote time to more fruitful work.

Cash only receipts

In this modern world of ubiquitous electronic payment facilities, it is surprising to see that the Indian consulate office receives payment in cash only. This is an inconvenience.

An age-old procedure of issuing handwritten duplicate carbon copy receipts is also in practice in the Indian CG. Online payments and EFTPOS can free up a large amount of CG resources like handling and stocking receipts, record keeping, handling cash, depositing cash in the bank, bookkeeping and bank reconciliation etc.

It is highly desirable for the CG to adopt the latest technology for receiving payments and issuing receipts good for bank reconciliation and record keeping. It is ironic that a great deal of IT support to multinational companies like IBM, AMP, etc comes from India, yet the Indian government’s own consulate office is still stuck in older technology.

Photostat and portrait photo booth facility

It would also be useful if the CG organises a photostat machine so patrons can easily and efficiently get passport photos and photocopies of documents in the consulate itself. Last but not least, it would also be great to have friendly and courteous staff serving at the counters.

Published in Indian diaspora magazine, Sydney

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